Reading Materials for Literacy Learners – A Tale of Two Papers

Cheryl Lovstrom, Community Learning Network

1 2 13 April 2021

Now Playing: Reading Materials for Literacy Learners – A Tale of Two Papers

Featuring: English Express & The West Coast Reader

As the curtain rises, we see two people seated comfortably at a table together (appropriately spaced and wearing masks, of course). Margaret, a tutor at Anytown CALP, and Joanne, a learner who is working on their reading skills, discuss this week’s plan. They appear to be chatting about something on the table. Let’s listen in…

Margaret – Last week you told me you really enjoyed the newspaper article we worked on, and I know you don’t always like reading from a book. I did a little digging and found some resources I think you might really like.

Joanne – Really?! That’s great to hear because, to tell you the truth, those text books were really intimidating. I felt like I was back in school and had a knot in my stomach just thinking about having to read more. Can you tell me more about this new stuff?

Margaret – This is nothing like a text book! Thanks for telling me, by the way, because now I know not to bring those anymore. [Stage note: this is exactly what the director meant by informal assessment. The tutor takes their cue from the learner, and makes the change to a learner-centred approach]

What I brought for you today is a sample from a couple of online newspapers I found. Don’t worry, we don’t have to read them on screen unless you want to. Each copy is downloadable.

Joanne – I always feel so silly reading the newspaper. I can’t understand all of the words and I get mixed up. It would be really nice to be able to talk to my friends about something that’s not on social media. Do you think these will work for me?

Margaret – I’m sure they will! Let me tell you a little about them.

The first one is called English Express. Do you remember the Portal, where I get a lot of our resources? Well, it lives right there, so I can get copies any time we want. We can even look up titles together. [Stage note: this excellent resource can be found at:  - no login necessary]

English Express has a lot of neat features: (Image Source: (April 13 2021)

English Express Teaching Notes

  • It has Alberta content and is about real events that took place in the news. [Stage note: The paper was funded by Alberta Advanced Education and is housed by Community Learning Network]
  • There are 3 reading levels, so we can choose the best one for you. [Stage note: also suitable for English language learners]
  • There’s an audio file with each publication, so you can listen while we read.
  • Articles run from Oct 2006 – June 2010. There are no new articles anymore, but these are still good ones.
  • There are teaching notes for all the publications so we can get some ideas about how to practice reading.
  • It even has games & special issues for us to explore.
  • We can read on screen or print copies to work with.
  • It’s free, so we can look at as many issues as we want.

Joanne – That sounds like it’ll be fun! What’s the other resource you found?

Margaret – Well, if you like the sound of English Express, you’re going to love The West Coast Reader. [Stage note: access The West Coast Reader at
(Image Source: (April 13 2021)


  • This one has articles from BC. It’s not as “local” but it’s still good, Canadian content. [Stage note: $10 + GST/year for digital subscription (newspaper) but access to articles is free. The paper is funded by Decoda Literacy Solutions, Camosun College, BC Advanced Education]
  • The Reader has articles starting from May 2016, and they publish 10 new issues a year. It has all the same kinds of things as English Express, and a couple of little extras:
    • The audio file with each article has 2 speeds, slow & “normal” pace, so we can go more slowly if we get stuck on a section, or speed up when you’re feeling confident.
    • They even have a quiz with each article. If you’re feeling comfortable you can take the quiz like a mini test, or we can even just use the questions to talk about what we’ve learned together.

What do you think? Do you want to give it a try?

Joanne – Yes! I really like how we can choose things that are interesting and I can go at my own pace. It’ll be good to practice reading a newspaper, too.

The two pick up a copy of English Express and start exploring its features.

Fade to black and curtain closes.

Cheryl Lovstrom
CLN Central Region RSS


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